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Sadness but pride as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games come to an end

It's time to say goodbye as the biggest multi-sport event to come to the region draws to a close.

England's Evie Richards in action during the mountain bike event at Cannock Chase
England's Evie Richards in action during the mountain bike event at Cannock Chase

With 11 days of competition across Birmingham and the West Midlands at 14 different venues, as well as the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, the 2022 Commonwealth Games have brought more than one million sports fans to the region.

Those who attended the Games have enjoyed high quality sport, colourful and packed stadiums and arenas and a range of activities for all ages across the venues, with festival sites providing vibrant music and entertainment across the region.

However, all good things must come to an end and the final set of medals are set to be handed out following the completion of the men's hockey final at University of Birmingham before the closing ceremony takes place at Alexander Stadium.

It will see the athletes of the 72 countries and territories come together to enjoy an evening of entertainment and the official handover of the Commonwealth Games mantle from Birmingham to the 2026 hosts Victoria in Australia.

Organisers have not yet unveiled what will be included in the ceremony for entertainment, but whatever takes place will have to compete with the spectacle of the opening ceremony at the stadium on July 28.

That ceremony featured a journey through the industrial revolution and the region's role in it, including the famous Birmingham Bull, dozens of cars, flying houses and Lenny Henry commenting that he must have had the wrong type of mushrooms on his toast that morning.

Whatever takes place, it will be a celebration of the Games and the role that not just Birmingham, but that the whole region has put into hosting the Games and welcoming spectators from across the Commonwealth.

The Sandwell Aquatics Centre, the only newly-built sporting venue for the Games, provided 11 days of fast paced action in the swimming competitions and grace and agility in the diving.

Wolverhampton and Dudley put on a show, with thousands of people lining the streets and attending the start and finish venue in West Park to cheer on the cycling time triallists.

Meanwhile, the sun shone on Cannock Chase as it was transformed into an international sporting venue to host the mountain biking competitions, with England's Evie Richards a popular winner of the women's event.

Those attending events in these venues spoke of how much they'd enjoyed coming to see the Games and praised the work done on the venues.

In Sandwell, Zena Clark had travelled over from the East Midlands with her daughter Sophie to see the diving and said it had been a great venue to watch in.

She said: "It's so smart and well organised and laid out and I think they've done a great job with getting the crowds in and out, so it's just been fantastic to be here."

Lucy Patterson from Northern Ireland was supporting her sister Joanna in the cycling time trial and said Wolverhampton was a great place to watch the event.

She said: "I've enjoyed being in Wolverhampton as well and the park is a really nice setting, plus it's nice to see the Games heading out of Birmingham and into places like this."

At Cannock Chase, Scottish cycling chief executive Nick Rennie said he hoped the events could inspire more people to get on their bikes.

He said: "The track itself looks like a great course with a wide variety of trails and I've been very impressed with it, as well as the reception we've had since getting here."

The closing ceremony starts at 8pm from Alexander Stadium. It's one party you will not want to miss.

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